“Don’t Kitten me.” I scowled, on a roll now. “You left around five or so and didn’t get back till when? Past two in the morning? What were you guys doing? And get that stupid smile off your face. This isn’t funny.”

Daemon tried to get rid of the smile but failed. “I love when your claws come out.”

“Oh, shut up.” Disgusted, I pushed at his arm. “Let me go. You can call up Ash and see if she’ll make you some eggs and bacon. I’m out of here.”

Instead of letting me go, he shifted atop me, holding himself up with his hands planted on either side of my shoulders. Now he was grinning—that infuriating, cocky grin of his. “I just want to hear you say it: I’m jealous.”

“I already said it, butt-face. I’m jealous. Why wouldn’t I be?”

He cocked his head to the side. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because I never wanted Ash, and I wanted you from the first moment I saw you—and before you get started, I know I had a bad way of showing it, but you know I wanted you. Only you. You’re insane to be jealous.”

“I am?” I fought back angry tears. “You guys were together.”

“Were together.”

“She probably still wants you.”

“I don’t want her, so it doesn’t matter.”

It mattered to me. “She’s model beautiful.”

“And you’re more beautiful.”

“Don’t try to sweet-talk me.”

“I’m not,” he said.

Staring over his shoulder, I bit my lip. “You know, at first I thought I kind of deserved last night. Now I know how you felt when I went out with Blake. Like karma was schooling me, but it’s not the same. You and I weren’t together then and Blake and I didn’t have that kind of history.”

He took a deep breath. “You’re right; it’s not the same thing. I didn’t go out with Ash on a date. Andrew stopped by and we got to talking about Ethan. Andrew was hungry, so we decided to get something to eat. Dee tagged along and Ash was there, because you know, she’s his sister.”

I gave a lopsided shrug. Okay, he had a point.

“And we didn’t go out to eat. We ended up ordering pizza, went back to Andrew’s house, and we talked about Sunday. Ash is scared to death that she’s going to lose Andrew, too. Dee still wants to murder Blake. I spent hours talking them through this. It wasn’t a party you weren’t invited to.”

But I wasn’t invited at all, I wanted to say, but I knew that was stupid. “Why didn’t you tell me, at least? You could’ve said something. Then my imagination wouldn’t have run circles around me.”

He stared at me a moment, then pushed up, sitting beside me. “I meant to stop by when I got home, but it was late.”

So last night was a dream. Lameness officially confirmed.

“Look, I didn’t think about it.”

“Apparently,” I muttered.

Daemon rubbed the spot above his heart. “I honestly didn’t think you’d get this upset. I figured you’d know better.”

I was still flat on my back, too weary to move. “Know better?”

“Yeah, that you’d know if Ash pranced naked into my bedroom right now, I’d still send her packing. That you didn’t have anything to worry about.”

“Thanks for that image you implanted into my brain forever.”

He shook his head, huffing out a dry laugh. “This insecurity thing ticks me off, Kat.”

My mouth dropped open and I flew up, coming to rest on my knees. “Excuse me? Are you the only one who’s allowed to be insecure?”

“What?” He smirked. “Why would I be insecure?”

“Good question, but what do you call your little episode with Blake yesterday in the hallway? And that stupid question about me wanting to help Blake?”

He snapped his mouth shut.

“Ha! Exactly. It’s even more ridiculous for you to be insecure. Let me spell it out for you.” When my anger rose, the Source did, too. It skated over my skin. “I loathe Blake. He used me and was ready to turn me over to Daedalus. He killed Adam. There’s only a teeny tiny bit of me that can actually tolerate him. How can you even be any bit jealous of him?”

Daemon’s jaw popped. “He wants you.”

“Oh, dear God, he does not.”

“Whatever. I’m a guy. I know what other guys are thinking.”

I threw my hands up. “It doesn’t matter if he did. I. Hate. Him.”

He looked away. “Okay.”

“And you don’t hate Ash. There’s a part of you that loves her. I know you do and maybe not in the way you feel about me, but there’s affection there—there’s history. Sue me if I’m a little bit intimidated by that.”

I pushed off the bed, wanting to stomp across the room like a toddler. Maybe even throw myself on the floor. I’d work off some energy that way.

Daemon appeared in front of me and stepped forward, cradling my cheeks. “Okay. I see your point. I should’ve said something. And the stuff with Blake—yeah, it’s stupid, too.”

“Good.” I folded my arms.

His lips twitched. “But you’ve got to understand that you are who I want. Not Ash. Not anyone else.”

“Even if the Elders want you to be with someone like her?”

He lowered his head, brushing his lips along my cheekbone. “I don’t care what they want. I’m incredibly selfish like that.” He kissed my temple. “Okay?”

My eyes drifted shut. “Okay.”

“We’re good then?”

“If you promise not to give me any crap about going with you tomorrow.”

He pressed his forehead against mine. “You drive a hard bargain.”

“I do.”

“I don’t want you going, Kitten.” He sighed, wrapping his arms around me. “But I can’t stop you. Promise you’ll stay close to me.”

My smile was hidden against his chest. “I promise.”

Daemon kissed the top of my head. “You always get your way, don’t you?”

“Not always.” I placed my hands on his sides, drawing in his warmth. If I had my way, none of this would be happening. But that was the thing about all of this. I wondered if any of us would get our way.

His arms tightened, and I felt a sigh shudder through him. “Come on. Let’s get the bacon and eggs going. I need all my strength for today.”

“What, for…” I trailed off, realizing what he was saying. “Oh, yeah…Blake.”

“Yeah.” He kissed me softly. “It’s going to take a lot for me not to commit bodily harm. You know that, right? So extra bacon for me.”

Chapter 20

Dee was perched on the bottom step like a demented pixie about to unleash holy hell. Her hair was pulled back sharply, her eyes a bright and feverish green. A thin slash formed on her lips. Her fingers curled over her knees like razor-sharp claws ready to dig in.

“He’s here,” she said, gaze focused on the window beside the door.

I glanced at Daemon. A wolfish smile spread across his face. He wasn’t at all concerned about his sister’s murderous desires. Perhaps having Blake come here wasn’t a good idea.

She sprung from the step, throwing open the door before Blake even knocked. No one stopped her or even moved forward.

Surprised, Blake lowered his hand. “Uh, hi—”

Dee cocked back a slender arm and slammed her fist right into Blake’s jaw. The impact knocked him back a good three feet.

My mouth dropped open.

Andrew laughed.

Spinning around, she let out a long breath. “Okay. I’m done.”

I watched her move toward the armchair and sit, shaking her hand.

“I promised her one good hit,” Daemon said, chuckling. “She’ll behave now.”

I stared at him.

Blake staggered through the door, rubbing his jaw. “Okay,” he said, wincing. “I deserved that.”

“You deserve far worse than that,” Andrew said. “Keep that in mind.”

He nodded and looked around the room. Six Luxen and a baby hybrid stared back at him. He had the sense to look nervous, even afraid. The animosity in the room was palpable.

Blake moved so that his back was against the wall. Smart guy. Slowly, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a rolled-up paper. “I guess we should get this over with quickly.”

“I guess so,” Daemon said, snatching the paper from him. “What’s this?”

“A map,” he answered. “The route we need to take is outlined in red. It’s a fire access road and will lead up to the back entrance of Mount Weather.”

Daemon unrolled the map on the coffee table. Dawson peered over his brother’s shoulder, running his finger along the wiggling red line. “How long will it take to get up this road?”

“About twenty minutes by car, but there’s no way we’re going to get a car up there unnoticed.” He took a timid step forward, eyeing Dee, who was eyeballing him back. A red mark marred his right cheek. That was gonna bruise. “We’re going to do it by foot and fast.”

“How fast are we talking?” Matthew asked from his post by the dining room door.

“As fast as inhumanly possible,” Blake responded. “We need to move at the light-speed thing. Luc’s giving us fifteen minutes and we can’t hang around Mount Weather, waiting for nine. We need to get there about five minutes before and hit this road as fast as possible.”

I sat back. Only once did I hit the speeds necessary for what they were talking about. That’s when I’d been chasing Blake’s ass down.

Daemon glanced up. “Can you do this?”

“Yes.” Given the reasons, I was sure I could do it. Hopefully.

Shaking her head, Dee stood. “How fast can they really run?”

“Damn fast when need be,” Blake said. “Come at me again, and I’ll show you how fast I can run.”

Dee snickered. “I bet I’ll still catch you.”

“Perhaps,” he murmured and then said, “You need to practice all day tomorrow. Maybe even tonight. We can’t have anyone slowing us down.”

It took me a second to realize he was talking to me. “I’m not going to slow anyone down.”

“Just making sure.” His eyes churned as they met mine.

I looked away quickly. The fact that I was obviously the weakest link burned me. Dee or Ash would probably be a better choice for this, but I knew I could do it.

“She’s not your problem to worry about,” Daemon snapped.

Matthew came forward, fitting in between Daemon and Blake. “Okay. We know we have this road to go up, but you want us to remain back where?”

Daemon folded his arms, eyes narrowed. “At the bottom of the access road, this should give you a running chance to get out if something goes wrong.”

“Nothing’s going to go wrong,” Ash said, watching Daemon. “We’ll wait there for you.”